Language is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans. It binds us. Instructs us. Reveals us. When used with intention, it creates a common understanding.
Language also plays a critical role in creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and included. Historically, language has left many of us out. Individuals and groups have been marginalized and discriminated against because of their culture, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socioeconomic status, appearance and more.
Nyssa believes that we can do better. Inclusive language acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences, and promotes equitable opportunities. It is constructed to bring everyone into the group and exclude no one.
That is why we take a yes, and approach to our language choices at Nyssa. This means wholeheartedly acknowledging the experience of womanhood and motherhood by name. We understand that, for many, identifying as a woman is personally and politically profound. Laying claim to one’s connection to the complex and incredible female experience in a patriarchal world is extremely important to many people— Nyssa’s founders included.
It also means acknowledging that not all people with vulvas identify as women and not all people who give birth or are parents identify as mothers. Our postpartum recovery products are designed for everyone who gives birth. That is why we often say that our products are “for mothers and birthing people” or “for women and people with vulvas.” Being inclusive with our language is a very small gesture of respect that can have a huge impact on people who are already marginalized on top of experiencing a very physically and emotionally challenging time— such as postpartum, menopause, or dealing with chronic pain. It is, quite simply, an act of kindness.
By taking a yes, and approach, we believe we can be celebratory of the feminine and inclusive to everyone sharing the very human experience of giving birth, recovering from birth, navigating pain and going through the transitions of life.
And while we take this approach generally at Nyssa, we recognize two important things: our team is always learning and will certainly not always get it ‘right’. That is okay. We listen, we learn, we adjust. We also use language carefully and mindfully, but we do not police ourselves at every turn. You may often see just “women” or just “mothers” mentioned in our copy; but, more often than not, you will see both.
Using inclusive language asks something simple of us. It asks us to try. To tap into our innate capacity for kindness and curiosity about the experience of our fellow humans. To change deeply embedded habits. To consider the implications of words and phrases that have long gone unchallenged. To dig deep into empathy and imagine an experience not our own. At its heart, inclusive language is about practicing empathy— the cornerstone of understanding the human experience.
When we put empathy into practice— whether through design, language or through our actions as citizens of the world— we believe we have the power to transform women's health on an individual, communal and societal scale. That is our commitment, to you and to ourselves.
— Mia, Nyssa Co-Founder
artwork: eleanor shakespeare